Summary: Don't try to hide the fact you have quarrels and fights. Deal with the fact that there is divisions and disagreement. Divisions distract us. Learn the principles that can be the cure for the common church.
Intro: What is it that causes fights and quarrels or division? We see division in families, marriages, teams, governments, and of course churches? Why? Listen to what James the brother of Jesus has to say. James 4.1-3 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you commit murder. You’re determined to have things, but you can’t get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them. 3 When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure.”
Their disunity was a result of ongoing immaturity and pride that produced arrogance and division. What is the danger of fighting, quarrelling, and division? It has the ability to distract us from what is most important.
I. Division distracts us from who we are supposed to know.
Remember what Paul told us in Ephesians 6.12 “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”
What was the major distraction in the church at Corinth? There were four factions that Paul tells about but we can only guess what the factions were all about.
A) The Parties
1) The pastor party – 1 Corinthians 1.12 “I’m with Paul”
This group loved Paul because he founded the church. He was their “Spiritual Father.”
2) The preacher party – 1 Corinthians 1.12 “I’m with Apollos”
Apollos was a great speaker. He was skilled in apologetics proving Jesus is the Messiah from the Old Testament. He was a gifted speaker that was liked by the people. Famous preacher syndrome is very dangerous.
3) The traditional party – 1 Corinthians 1.12 “I’m with Cephas”
We don’t know if Peter ever visited Corinth or not but He was the “original” apostle of the church.
4) The spiritual party – 1 Corinthians 1.12 “I’m with Jesus”
This group was the spiritually superior. They always had a special hotline to heaven and did not seek to join with the rest of the body but separate because of their super spirituality. Not the people that say Amen, and carry big Bibles. This group would wound you with words like I can’t believe you can’t see that this is of God.
B) Passion for the Word Jesus – fellowshipping in the word (The Ephesian church in Revelation 2)
C) Passion for each other – fellowshipping in love and good deeds, Hebrews 10.24, 25
II. Divisions distract us from who we are supposed to be
A) Separated for Christ –Holy
Unity does not come from gritting our teeth at other believers. It comes from giving our hearts wholly to Christ, then giving our hearts to each other. We are to have no distinctions about who our hearts are given to in the body. 1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God.”
You might say I can’t love some of the people here. Romans 5.5 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit will fill us to overflowing with the love of God.
B) United with believers – Humble
Paul says, “Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and conviction.”
III. Divisions distract us from what we are supposed to do
A) Display the Spirit of Jesus
The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians is the control of the Spirit of God in our lives. Ephesians 5:18 calls us to be filled more accurately controlled by the Spirit.
B) Declare the saving power of the Gospel
The message – 1 Corinthians 1.17 “17God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.”
IV. God’s answer for division
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus… do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:5, 14-15)
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4;1-3)